Jamaica Gleaner

Online in­sur­ance a po­ten­tial ri­val for bro­kers

- Cedric Stephens Cedric E. Stephens pro­vides in­de­pen­dent in­for­ma­tion and ad­vice about the man­age­ment of risks and in­sur­ance. For free in­for­ma­tion or coun­sel, write to: aegis@flowja.com Business · Insurance · Society · Kingston · Jamaica · West Indies · Grace Kennedy and Company Limited · International Insurance Company

QUES­TION: My mo­tor pol­icy ex­pires at the end of this month. I am plan­ning to buy di­rectly from an in­sur­ance com­pany in­stead of us­ing an in­sur­ance bro­ker. Two things have in­flu­enced my de­ci­sion. The first is the con­sis­tently poor qual­ity of ser­vice that the bro­ker has pro­vided. The sec­ond is a num­ber of things that I have heard from my friends and ads that I have seen about con­duct­ing online in­sur­ance trans­ac­tions – much in the same way that bank­ing is done online. What has been your ex­pe­ri­ence with the com­pa­nies that are of­fer­ing online in­sur­ance ser­vices? Is this some­thing that you would rec­om­mend?

– P.L., Kingston 5.


HELPLINE: The tim­ing of your ques­tion is per­fect. The first rea­son is that re­newal of my car in­sur­ance was at the top of my mind dur­ing the month of

June. The pol­icy ex­pired on July 1. The sec­ond thing is that for some rea­son, I was in­vited to three sep­a­rate events dur­ing last

month which had some­thing to with the trans­ac­tion of mo­tor in­sur­ance online. The third thing was that a few days ago one of my broth­ers shared his online ex­pe­ri­ences, which also oc­curred dur­ing July. Fourth, I also saw, again dur­ing that same month, two full-page ad­ver­tise­ments that ex­tolled the virtues of an online in­sur­ance kiosk.

It was your two ques­tions plus these four trig­gers that caused me to won­der why the re­newal date of my pol­icy was not Au­gust 1. Had that been the case, I would have had three ad­di­tional op­tions to ex­am­ine, plus the terms of­fered by my ex­ist­ing in­surer to choose from. In­stead, I sim­ply asked my in­surer to re­new for another 12 months with­out see­ing what was avail­able else­where. I wrote an ar­ti­cle for the Oc­to­ber/Novem­ber 2001

is­sue of a lo­cal maga- zine, Busi­nes­suite. It was ti­tled ‘Mo­tor in­sur­ance has fi­nally en­tered the new age’. The ar­ti­cle ex­am­ined the web­site of the GraceKenne­dy in­sur­ance sub­sidiary, Ja­maica In­ter­na­tional In­sur­ance Com­pany.

That com­pany has since been re­named GK Gen­eral (GKG). This is the same com­pany with which my brother trans­acted busi­ness dur­ing July 2015. Be­cause of this history and the con­ver­gence of re­cent events, I de­cided to visit GKGOn­line.com in an at­tempt to an­swer the two ques­tions that you posed.

Ac­cord­ing to a state­ment put out by the com­pany, “Per­sons seek­ing in­sur­ance cov­er­age (can) ob­tain a quote via the web plat­form in as lit­tle as 10 min­utes, based on their needs and bud­get from the com­fort of their home or of­fice or other pre­ferred lo­ca­tion ... each user will be re­quired to en­ter their per­sonal in­for­ma­tion, the ve­hi­cle in­for­ma­tion, in­clud­ing own­ers and driv­ers, as well as driv­ing history for the last three years. Once all the re­quired in­for­ma­tion is en­tered, three quo­ta­tions are gen­er­ated.”

“The com­par­a­tive quo­ta­tions,” the state­ment con­tin­ues, “en­sure that users would be able to com­pare the quo­ta­tions they cre­ated based on in­for­ma­tion sub­mit­ted, the GKG rec­om­men­da­tion and the ba­sic pack­age which is the min­i­mum re­quired by law. If the cus­tomer is not in­ter­ested in any of the three, the cus­tomer can make fur­ther ad­just­ments to the quo­ta­tion they cre­ated un­til the most de­sir­able out­come is reached.”

When I vis­ited the site with the goal of car­ry­ing out a test to see whether I could have saved money, it be­came ev­i­dent that there were still a few bugs in the sys­tem that need to be cor­rected.

The sys­tem re­quires pre­cise de­tails of the ex­act date my driver’s li­cence was first ob­tained. This in­for­ma­tion does not ap­pear on my cur­rent driver’s li­cence. For­tu­nately, I was able to re­trieve this in­for­ma­tion be­cause I still have the orig­i­nal li­cence. In the case of my wife, she re­mem­bers the year when the li­cence was first is­sued but not the month or day. As a re­sult, and be­cause I was un­able to speak with a com­pany rep­re­sen­ta­tive due to it be­ing a public hol­i­day, hu­man in­ter­ven­tion was not avail­able.

The good news in all of this is that the sys­tem au­to­mat­i­cally gen­er­ated and sent me an email. It said that the de­tails that I sub­mit­ted have been saved for 30 days, dur­ing which I can re­sume the trans­ac­tion.

Mo­tor in­sur­ance is not cheap. Most per­sons have dif­fi­culty find­ing the money to pay the pre­mium in full. Per­sons who trans­act busi­ness online have the abil­ity to choose a pay­ment plan or ob­tain pre­mium fi­nanc­ing. I par­tic­u­larly like this fea­ture of the com­pany’s online plat­form.

Bri­tish Caribbean In­sur­ance and The In­sur­ance Com­pany of The West Indies also have online of­fer­ings. I would def­i­nitely rec­om­mend t hat you check them out as well.

If mo­tor in­sur­ance en­tered a new age in 2001, the busi­ness ap­pears, in many re­spects, to be firmly pre­par­ing it­self for fur­ther trans­for­ma­tion dur­ing the re­main­ing years

of the 21st cen­tury.

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